Afghanistan and Somalia: The Similarities

Following the withdrawal of the Soviet forces in 1992, Afghanistan was thrown into a civil war. Warlords were in charge of various sectors and they enforced their own rules Businesses had to pay them for safe transport and there were competing warlords. So if a Pakistani businessman wanted to send goods via road to Turkmenistan, he would end up lining the pockets of many warlords, which affected the profit margin. Then came the Taliban, from the madrassas in Pakistan and took over the Afghanistan and bought “stability”. They defeated various warlords and established a single point of payment.

Then they imposed Islamic laws on the poor Afghanis. Criminal punishments included amputations, and stoning. Women could go out only with a male relative and Hindus were required to a special marking on their cloth. Finally they forged a relationship with Osama bin Laden and you know the rest.

Now this story is repeating in Somalia. Following the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre in 199, the county has been in chaos. In a scene by scene replay of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, an alliance of Islamic militias have taken over the country. Now people can walk without fear in the streets of Mogadishu.

Somalis interviewed by Reuters in Mogadishu — and Jowhar and Balad to the north, which the Islamic militia also captured last week — almost unanimously expressed happiness at the new-found stability on their streets since the power shift.

Transport was moving more freely, business was flourishing, roadblocks had come down, and guns were less visible on the streets, they said. [Islamists bring rare peace, new worry to Mogadishu]

The new rulers have started enforcing their code of conduct as well.

Abdifatah Nur, 26, said he was watching a World Cup soccer match at a movie house when Islamic militiamen crashed through the doors and ordered the television turned off. They beat the children with lashes and took the young men to a jail. Before the militiamen let their prisoners free three days later, Nur said, they whipped him and cut off his long, curly hair.

Nur said that a few days later, in a different movie house, he watched as Islamic militiamen beat the owner to death, apparently for ignoring earlier orders to not show soccer matches."I hate what they are doing," Nur said. "We have no choice.">Several leaders of the Islamic militias have said they have issued no orders banning World Cup broadcasts or requiring men to cut their hair.

Now the Taliban were happily thinking of doing business with UNOCAL when the Al-Qaeda folks landed and became party poopers.Here is the composition of the groups that make up the Union of Islamic Courts.

Alas, the truth is that the Union is made up of at least four major jihadi groups: al-Ittihad al-Islami (“Islamic Union”), a group which used to appear on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations (the folks at Foggy Bottom apparently bought at face value the group’s previously self-proclaimed dissolution); al-Takfir wal-Hijra (“Excommunication and Exodus”), a group so extreme that it considered Osama bin Laden too moderate and tried to kill him in Sudan in 1996; al-Islah (“Reconciliation”), an Islamist group pushing for the establishment of a Islamic state in Somalia; and al-Tabligh (“Making Known”), an Islamist “missionary” group with links to the same madrassas in Pakistan which gave us the Taliban [WSJ:The New Taliban (subscription required)]

If you have a group which considers Osama bin Laden a moderate, you know which direction Somalia is heading.

1 Comment

  1. Lesson from Somalia

    When the Islamic Courts Union took control of Somalia it was like a repeat of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan.  They did the usual things, like banning football and enforcing Sharia, but soon it became obvious that Somalia was becoming…

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